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E! 'Fashion Police' writers file claim for alleged back wages

Seen Around Lincoln Center - Day 7 - Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Designer Kimora Lee Simmons, host Kelly Osbourne, designer Jenny Packham, hosts Joan Rivers and George Kotsiopoulos and producer Melissa Rivers are seen on the set of Fashion Police at Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on September 12, 2012 in New York City.

Writers from the highly rated E! network television show “Fashion Police” filed claims with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Wednesday alleging the show broke state labor laws and doesn’t fully compensate writers for the hours they work, including both regular and overtime hours. According to the Writers Guild of America, the claims are worth more than $1 million in back wages.

The network responded to the claims, saying, "E! values our Fashion Police writers and we pay them fairly and in full legal compliance."

“The most I’ve been paid for a show has been for eight hours of work,” writer Eliza Skinner said in a WGA press release. “In reality, I put in anywhere from 12 to 32 additional hours on each show — time I should have been compensated for. On top of that is all the unpaid overtime we regularly work."

Skinner described the show’s production in an email to KPCC. “We are given photos for the show the week before we pitch. The day before the taping we pitch about 200 jokes a piece at a four- to five-hour meeting. Then we are asked to do new jokes on some of the looks, usually due the next morning at 3 a.m.”

That goes double for awards show specials, where writers are at the E! offices from 2:30 p.m. until they’re released, which could be between 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the next day, according to Skinner. The amount of time listed for each show on the writers’ paychecks: eight hours, Skinner says.

The show is one of the highest rated programs on the E! network. “Our ratings are great — we are often the highest rated show on E!, and at the lowest we’re right behind the Kardashians,” Skinner said.

Writer Bryan Cook said in a WGA press release that the writers love working on the show, but they want to be paid fairly and treated like professional writers.

The E! network is in 98 million homes in the U.S., according to NBCUniversal. “Fashion Police” is listed on the NBCUniversal corporate website as one of the network’s “core franchises.”

The WGA is providing legal assistance to the writers, despite the show being non-unionized.

You can watch a segment from the show below:

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